Automation is used in a wide variety of life science applications ranging from proteomics to systems biology. Automation is a dominant feature in the diagnostics market followed by the discovery and research labs. In clinical diagnostics, where profits are based on the number of samples, high throughput is the core driving factor. Total automation is generally preferred in such labs and manufacturing setups. Research labs and academic institutions are generally opting for modular automation wherein they reduce the human intervention in tedious and repetitive tasks.
The rapid rise in the number of clinical and pre-clinical studies across the world has made the need for speed in an analysis of samples imperative. The machines have to work 24 hours, day in and day out. This has made automation very important in the bio-analytical laboratory. It involves a considerable amount of manpower to work throughout the day. Automation provides a much cheaper and viable alternative considering the fact that it reduces human error to almost none and provides sustainable long term benefits.
The emergence of robotics has transformed the typical workday for scientists around the world. With the advent of automation techniques, scientists are now able to set up, run and analyze the results of experiments in a fraction of the time they needed in the past. In today's world, pulling maximum efficiency out of every department, including the R & D labs, is a major issue.
Automation of routine laboratory procedures, by the use of dedicated work stations and software to program instruments, allows associate scientists and technicians to think creatively about the implications of their experiments and to design effective follow-up projects or develop alternative approaches to their work instead of spending their days repeating tedious tasks.
Apart from reducing mundane tasks, the market for laboratory automation is also driven by the need for consistency in quality. Because, the cost of an error is very high, in a scientific paper or developing a drug, even fairly low error rates can have a profound impact on the conclusions you make downstream.
It is believed that taking out the human element helps in achieving more consistency. Great advances have been made in the molding of plastics that has reduced the volumes of reagents used and enabled handling of smaller liquid volumes easy. These advancements have worked in favor of the development of micro and nano-litre plates to fit in with the automated liquid handling equipment.
Validation and data quality play a major role in modern life science. Legal validation, patents and clinical testing have become crucial issues. Automation enables a much higher reproducibility and better documentation of data. This allows the production of more data points with great ease. It also ensures the safety of personnel in the presence of infectious or potentially hazardous material.
North America is clearly the market leader with a total market share of 60%, followed by Europe. Asia and Latin America are emerging as there has been a considerable increase in outsourcing pharmaceutical manufacturing to these regions due to the availability of cheaper labor and resources.
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